Why I can’t leave my hairdresser – a story about real sustainability and customer service

I’ve gone to the same hairdresser since I was born. You may be wondering what this has to do with Carrotmob or thinking I don’t get out much. While I did grow up in the one place, since I was 18 I’ve managed to juggle overseas travel and moving house with trips to the hairdresser.

For the last few years I’ve lived about an hour away from Paul and his salon. Just last week a friend gave me a recommendation for his hairdresser down the road that I ignored. Even Mel, who colours my hair, asked me last time I was there if I’d ever tried a city salon. Apparently other people have come back, turned off by the city prices. And while I was raised to be a penny pincher, that’s not the reason I haven’t left.

It’s all about relationships

When my mum had cancer Paul came over to her house and cried with her while he shaved her head. He then cut a wig to match her old haircut and refused to take any money. He gives a makeover every year to a year six kid at the local primary school who needs a self-esteem boost.  There are countless stories of his generosity. But even that isn’t all of the reason why I go back.

Maybe I could find a hairdresser who switches from politics to reality TV to inappropriate comments about his, mine and other peoples’ love lives in the blink of an eye. Maybe he could even give me a decent haircut. But he wouldn’t know that even though I was adamant I wanted a spiky fringe in primary school, I cried as soon as I saw it. They don’t know the mate I travelled around Eastern Europe with and they didn’t watch my sister walk down the aisle (and do the hair of both of them, of course).

Paul and his hairdressing salon are entwined in my life like a vine around the trunk of a tree. You could cut it away but the view would be a lot less interesting.

It’s about small business as well as the environment

So here’s to small businesses like It’s Individual. The places that make Melbourne and its suburbs unique. Carrotmob is about looking after the environment . But it’s also about supporting our small businesses. After all, Melbourne is the place where we’ve protested the arrival of McDonalds and Starbucks. It makes sense that we’d also want to support our locals.

If you have your own favourite small business we’d love to hear about it.

* This post is dedicated to Sean who asked me why we were investing time to support profit-making businesses. Sean remortgaged his house to make an amazing documentary called The Thin Green Line about African park rangers who risk their lives to protect the animals in their care. All profits from the documentary and foundation help equip these rangers and support the families of rangers who have been killed by poachers while on duty. Another good cause worth supporting.

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One response to “Why I can’t leave my hairdresser – a story about real sustainability and customer service

  1. I’ve just been at a presentation that focused on the measurables, the ‘volumes’ and ‘throughputs’ [quoting the presenter]. Yet your post talks about the aspects of success that rarely make it onto PowerPoint. They enrich life and help it make sense. They answer the question ‘why’ and ‘why bother’. They’re hard to measure in quantitative terms, yet incredibly powerful in qualitative. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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